Posts tagged: UIUC

Walking the catwalk and building superstructures with Jennifer Lynn

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By , June 22, 2009 8:00 am

Jennifer building the next Chicago super structure

Jennifer building the next Chicago super structure

In this feature, we talk to Jennifer Lynn, a model, civil engineer, and cancer society volunteer.  While Jennifer used to run NCAA Division I cross-country too, an accident 5 years ago shortened her competitive running career.  Always the glass half-full type of person, Jennifer used her downtime from the accident to begin her modeling career.   Read more below to unravel the world of modeling and also find out why civil engineers aren’t boring people.

F: We’re amazed at your accomplishments to date…why the dual track in modeling and civil engineering?

JL:  I formerly ran on cross country but post accident I was no longer able to run due to the damage to my back and leg.  Therefore, I had ample amount of free time and the modeling jobs paid well so I opted to try it out.  The jobs I had were fun, allowed me a creative outlet it my otherwise technical life, and helped me pay for school – it was a win-win situation.  I continued to pursue my engineering degree while juggling my modeling jobs and still do to this day because it has become part of who I am and more simply, just what I do.  I feel very blessed for the opportunity and ability to do both.

F: If a really strange opportunity came up for you to relive a segment of either Joseph Strauss’ (the chief engineer of the Golden Gate Bridge) or Twiggy Lawson’s (pioneering English model) life, who would you choose?  Why?

JL: I would choose Joseph Strauss as his work will live on much longer than the work of Twiggy and he has done more for bettering humanity than that which a model can ever accomplish, in my opinion.

F: What goes through your mind when you pose for a camera?

JL: Modeling is a little difficult because, unlike engineering, everything isn’t black and white.  It is an art where beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that which you are creating can only be as good as the worst party involved in the process.  What may be ‘right’ on one shoot might be ‘wrong’ on another.  While posing I try to concentrate on how my body is angled and shaped in reference to the lights and my facial expression for the particular pose, then I try to imagine how I look from the photographers point of view.

F: Out of all the photos taken of you, which one is your favorite?

JL: My favorite photos are those which I perform all duties (makeup, hair,

Jennifer, the junk yard warrior

Jennifer, the junk yard warrior

etc) aside from that of the photographer.  Of all the photos I have taken to date, the ‘Junk Yard Warrior’ and ‘Steel Siren’ photos are my favorites because I poured so much of myself into it as I did everything besides take the photo, and the final product met and exceeded my expectations.

F: If you could build something, anything, what would it be?

JL: A time machine! Then I would meet myself in 20 years and take my own advice, my own version of ‘Back to the Future’! I think I would need an electrical, mechanical, and computer engineering degree for starters, so my civil engineering background really wouldn’t help.

F: We like geocaching too!  Have you found a geocache in any place interesting?

JL: I found one in some sort of military box.  The box itself was what I wanted to take rather than something inside the box.  For the difficult cache’s, I found one about ten feet off the ground in a hole in a tree.  We spent quite a bit of time looking before we were able to narrow it down to the hole we couldn’t reach then my friend put me on his shoulders and ta-da, success!

F: What’s the sexiest piece of infrastructure you’ve seen?  Why?

JL: Argonne National Laboratory is in my neck of the woods and one of the most impressive buildings I have been in to date.  The amount of research that goes on there, the security they have to protect it, and the actual layout of the building is beyond impressive.  They first came to the forefront from their participation in the Manhattan project aka developing the atom bomb (some of the remains from the project are buried in the surrounding forest preserves through which I run in Palos called Red Gate Woods, markers are there if you wanted to check it out).  My favorite part of the building is the electron storage ring.  It is a radiation proof ring inside the experimental hall that houses magnets through which electrons are sent.  When all is said and done, it creates the brightest x-ray beams in all of the Western Hemisphere!

Few questions about Chicago

F: Who are your favorite clothing designers in Chicago?  What are your favorite clothing stores?

Tatyanna Merenyuk is an up and coming designer, she makes some really cute dresses.  Veronika Kotlakic makes sexy couture wear.  Another designer/store would be Akira by John Cotay.  His following has grown with leaps and bounds over the past few years.  For mainstream brands, I love to shop at BCBG, Guess, Bebe, and Marciano!  I love their designs and the way their clothing fits my body!

F: What is the best place to enjoy nature in Chicago?

I am a suburban girl so I rarely go to the city to enjoy nature; I go to the city to enjoy the city!  In the burbs there are several amazing nature trails that are part of the Cook and Dupage Country Forest Preserves you can find me running through on a regular basis.  One of my favorites is called Waterfall Glen in Darien, Illinois.  It surrounds Argonne National Laboratory and has several waterfalls, ridges, and amazing trails that will show you nature at its finest and only 30 minutes from the city.   Bring your bike, your running shoes, your dog and make a day of it! The largest trail is a 10 mile loop and you are free from cars, shaded from the sun, and don’t have to run on the concrete or pavement!

F: What do you recommend people do this summer?

If possible, take some lazy summer days and fill them with sailing and boating on Lake Michigan.  You can bask in the glory of our skyline and listen to the sounds of birds from above and the water hitting the boat below.  I had a new appreciation for the city once I saw it from the lake.  It epitomizes the beauty of Chicago and all it has to offer.

F: Favorite buildings in Chicago?  How about favorite green structures?

JL: My favorite building is the Trump Tower.  It is the second tallest building on our skyline, the largest concrete-reinforced building in all of North America, has some amazing views of the city, the location is superior to that of the Sears Tower (more recently known as the Willis Tower), their restaurant sixteen is simply delicious, and I was there when they finally put the spire on the top in January!

The residential building 340 on the Park (340 East Randolph St) was the first silver level LEED certified building in the Midwest and it is right here in Chicago! One of my friends lives there and I love all the measures the designers and engineers took to reduce their environmental impact so it is by far my favorite green structure, and the view of Millennium park from the building is also amazing.

F: Where can we find civil engineers in the city?

JL:  Contrary to popular belief, civil engineers are not bookworms, have social lives as well as friends, and a sense of style.  For dancing you can find us at the clubs on the dance floor dressed to the nines (I am currently a frequent visitor of Manor, Level, BonV, and Rino).  Because we love to help people, we also like to volunteer.  My NFPO of choice is the American Cancer Society; I have been assisting with their Relay For Life fundraising projects since I was in high school.  Many of us are in various organizations that specialize in what we do.  I am on the board for an energy group called the Chicago chapter of Young Professionals in Energy.  Feel free to Come to our next event!  Good food is another key to keeping a civil engineer happy and unwinding from a long day. Some of my favorite places to go for dinner are Rockit Bar and Grill, Japonais, the Oven Grinder, Tru, and sixteen for starters.  We are just your average Chicagoans that take part in mainstream activities who just happen to also love math, science, and structures in general.

Jay Ryan smashes together the worlds of rock music and poster making

By , May 22, 2009 8:35 am

The man behind the Bird Machine

The man behind the Bird Machine

Rock-band bassist and silkscreen artist Jay Ryan speaks to us about his work, interests and love for labor intensive processes. While most poster makers enter the craft by way of graphic design or digital artistry, Jay’s education consisted of a degree in painting from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, ditching fine art painting for the more exciting world of poster making. He prefers creating his posters by hand, avoiding Photoshop at all costs…including many cuts from his treasured Exacto knife. Also, unlike most rock bands (with the exception of the Rolling Stones and U2) Jay’s band, Dianogah, has played together in the Chicago area and internationally for about 15 years.

F: You have a degree in Painting, why work on posters and not stick to painting or try out photography?

J: One of problems I had in school was finding justification for doing what I was doing. I wanted to do something where I could have fun with it visually and at the same time serve a purpose. To me, images alone seemed pointless, so I was always attaching text and creating a message with my work. Then, the other half of my life was spent going to rock concerts or band practice – so making posters for bands seemed like a great way to combine these interests!

F: So are your posters as easy as hitting the print button?

J: I make them all by hand with no computers. They are hand drawn, and all layers of film are cut by hand using Exacto knives. If we are making 300 posters, we go through 300 pieces of paper, put one color down, change screens and put another color down on all 300 pieces. We’ll usually end up making posters that include 5-7 colors so it is quite labor intensive.

F: Do you feel threatened by the digital world, where almost everything can be created through Adobe software and a printer?

J: I am encouraged by it because a lot of my peers in the poster community design all their work digitally but still go through the physical process of making these screen prints. In general, I believe there will always be those who appreciate handmade work. For example, there are still people who buy LPs and books despite itunes and the Kindle. Maybe my posters won’t be in the hands of a hundred million people, but I’ll still have people who appreciate and care about the art and amount of work put into the piece.

F: Why is it called the bird machine?

J: I was going to call it IBM, but that was taken, so we settled on The Bird Machine. There’s no real good reason, but I should really make one up. A lot of people ask me this question. A few probable reasons are that my wife is an ornithologist, and when I started the company I read Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

One of Jay's handmade creations

One of Jay's handmade creations

F: You are in a band, Dianogah that recently performed in the UK, at the ATP Festival, what was it like?

J: Traveling anywhere with this band is a lot of fun. I’ve been in this band longer than I’ve been making posters. Anytime we get together and travel and play is a blast. We got to see some good bands, stay up late, and act like we were 23, even though we are all in our late 30s. It was a fun weekend, with not a lot sleep.

F: Where do you play out here?

J: We have played in almost every venue in Chicago over the years, but The Hideout is our favorite place to play. Our next gig in Chicago is at the Pitchfork Music Festival; we are playing there on July 19th. There is a poster convention at the festival too, and I’ll be there showing and hopefully selling my posters.

F: What neighborhood do you live in? What do you do around there?

J: I live in Evanston, mow the lawn and walk the dog daily – I am fully suburban, as I work and live outside the city. Actually, there’s not a whole lot to do really close to my house, though there’s plenty within biking distance. I go to Chicago a lot. I used to live near Granville and Western. First best reason to go into Chicago is to go to Hot Doug’s, then Kuma’s Corner to get an amazing cheeseburger. I just had a swine flu burger there and it was great. I love browsing books at Quimby’s Books in Wicker Park and spend more money then I should at Reckless Records. Oh yeah, I also enjoy going to Rotofugi, Renegade Handmade, and eating at Milk & Honey.

F: What is your favorite gallery or place to check out visual art?

J: Rotofugi is like a vinyl toy store, but they also have some books, and have gallery space. Definitely have a bunch of good stuff there. Heaven Gallery is cool too.

F: Where can we see your work?

J: This is where I go hi-tech. Best place to see my prints is to check out my website.

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